MLB is back! As you’ve no doubt heard the Player’s Association has agreed in principle to the League’s stipulations and we will have a 2020 Baseball Season (barring any future events foreseen or otherwise). Here are some of the key answers this process has provided and then a few questions that have yet to be satisfactorily resolved.
Question #1 How many games?
60. The League is working out a 60 game schedule over 66 calendar days. There are several ways they could achieve a balanced schedule but that detail is the least of their worries.
Question #2 DH?
The abominable universal DH has been approved for the shortened season. However, in the negotiations, the implementation of universal DH in 2021 was scrapped as a concession to the players. I want to point out that this is a small victory against the seemingly unending wave of darkness that Baseball has recently faced.
Question #3 Any other dumb rules?
In Rob Manfred’s league? Of course, there are more dumb rules! The new dumb rule is the remarkably specifically named overtime-runner-on-second rule. If you haven’t heard, the powers that be, and that hate baseball and nice things, will be putting a runner on second to start extra innings. For some reason, they believe people who like Baseball want less Baseball and believe that will shorten games. It almost certainly will, since a bunt and a pop fly scores a run, but Manfred has done little to impress on me his love of the game so I am dejectedly resigned to the change.
Question #4 Will the player’s file a grievance?
Yes. Almost certainly the Player’s Union will file a grievance citing the March agreement which said the League would work to play “as many games as possible.” However, the odds of them winning are not high. In comparison with even the most recent offer the Union turned down, the probable value of the grievance they fought to keep seems pretty small. Just look what disgruntled and always outspoken player Trevor Bauer had to say about it:
Question #5 Who’s playing who?
The games will break down into 40 games within a team’s division and 20 games with the corresponding geographic division. So the NL East will play the AL East and so on. That should have some teams facing each other for the first time in a while, which will be fun.
Question #6 Any other details?
The league is shooting for July, 1st for all teams to report and then for the season to start on the 24th. Each team will have 60 players including “Taxi” squads from which to build 30-man rosters. Early details suggest that number will decrease down to 26 after the first month of the season.
There are still plenty of questions that need to be answered as this season continues to be worked out.
Question #7 What happens if there’s a positive test for COVID among the players?
This is the biggest threat to the 2020 season. With positive tests showing up at several MLB training sights, some sort of response plan will need to be in place or the virus could end everything before it’s really begun.
Question #8 What about service time?
It has already been worked out that a full season in 2020, no matter the length, is a full season relative to contracts and arbitration. How that plays out exactly with injuries, taxi squads, the reducing size of the active roster, and the 60-man player pool is something I’m excited to find out about.
Question #9 What does this all mean for the future?
I’m afraid it’s not particularly bright. The current CBA ends after next season and after the knock-down-drag-out fight we just witnessed, it’s hard to get excited for another huge labor dispute with exponentially more impactful consequences.
But that’s for tomorrow, today we finally have Baseball and that makes it a good day.